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BWW Review: Shattered by THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company

BWW Review: Shattered by THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company

Sometimes a production is more than a play. It's a slice of humanity with all its warts and blemishes. Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company took Tennessee Williams' powerful WIngfield family drama to the stage at the Jewish Community Center tonight and left me desolate. THE GLASS MENAGERIE studies a mother, a son, and a daughter with their complex relationship of love and control.

The lights dim. Music plays softly. Narrator Chris Shonka explains that in plays driven by memories, dim lights and music are essential. The scene opens with Amanda Wingfield (MaryBeth Adams) having dinner with her children, Laura (Katie Otten) and Tom (Chris Shonka).

Amanda wants her daughter to finish business school or find a good husband. But in order to find a husband, she must entertain gentlemen callers. She, in her day at Blue Mountain, had 17 gentlemen callers on one afternoon, but back then, they knew the art of conversation. Amanda is both garrulous and imposing. She knows the art of conversation and the burden of suffocating love.

Tom works in a warehouse, but longs to join the Merchant Marines and see the world. At the least, he wants to get out of their apartment, so he spends every night at the movies. Amanda doesn't believe that he is at the movies, because her husband ran out on her years ago, leaving nothing but his smiling portrait on the wall, looming over them like the fifth character in the play.

Laura is crippled and insecure. She secretly dropped out of business school when she vomited on the floor before a typing test. Her whole world is wrapped up in old records played on a gramophone and a collection of tiny glass animals that her mother calls her "Glass Menagerie."

Amanda takes to selling magazine subscriptions to fund her plans to attract a suitable gentleman caller for Laura. When Tom brings home coworker Jim O'Connor (Jon Shaw), her finely woven plans begin to unravel leaving devastation and brokenness.

Cathy Kurz is so perceptive in not only choosing excellent plays, but directing some of the finest productions in the area. THE GLASS MENAGERIE is the latest example of superb theatre.

MaryBeth Adams, Chris Shonka, Kate Otten, and Jon Shaw are polished, consummate actors. Adams brings to life the domineering Southern mother, but inserts nuances of tenderness and vulnerability. You see through her blithe spirit to the heartache beneath the surface. She is irritating and endearing. Shonka not only provides a smooth narrator who exudes a type of suave mystery, he becomes the restless son who "has nothing to call his own," and is willing to use the money for the light bill to pay his union dues. His exasperation with his mother is tempered by deep caring for his sister. Otten, as the shrinking Violet of the family, shows a growing confidence which almost immediately recedes as the story plays out. Shaw, a gum chewing, slick salesman of a guy, makes us like him despite his arrogance because of his kindness toward Laura.

The glass unicorn as a metaphor for someone who is different is so perfect. When the horn is broken off, the unicorn becomes like all the other glass horses. And although the unicorn was salvaged, my soul was shattered by the emotional wreckage in the Wingfield family. I left the theatre close to tears. It's that moving.

You can see THE GLASS MENAGERIE on OCT 13, 8:00 pm; OCT 10, OCT 20, NOV 2 and NOV 3 at 7:30 pm, and matinees on OCT 20, NOV 3 at 2:00 pm.

Photo courtesy of Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company

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